Thursday, 31 March 2011

Christine Returns


Lesley Saweard (Christine Barford)

When Jim called on Christine Barford to see if the Village Hall was free on the night that "Gardeners' Question Time" might – don't get excited, it's only might – want to visit Ambridge, I was shocked, as I'd completely forgotten that she existed. It seems months since we heard mention of her; not even in the, as Jim might put it, in absentia ploy.

You know the one, frequently used for Adam, where people are waving goodbye to him as he rides off on his tractor, or saying things like "I was talking to Adam the other day and he said…" but it was as if Christine had vanished from the face of the Earth. Still, she's back now and might even get a few lines to say before they wall her up somewhere.

On Sunday, Joe and Eddie's attempt to bum a roast dinner off the Snells went predictably wrong when it turned out that they too were taking part in the 'frugal lunch' scheme. Robert served them brown rice and puy lentils, saying of the latter "don't tell Lyndie, but I opened a small tin" in the same tone of voice that you might use to confess to being a paedophile.

Needless to say, Joe and Eddie were underwhelmed and their next plan is to cook a clandestine Sunday lunch themselves. The potential for disaster is staggering and we await the inevitable cock-up with interest.

Jamie has reverted to 'the whole world hates me' mode (spot on there, my old son) and has a go at Kenton for hitting on Jolene. He goes further, by telling Fallon about Kenton's fling with Holly and she confronts Kenton, who manages to convince her that his intentions are purely honourable and "I really care about your mum."

Actually, I think that the (not so very) secret of Kenton and Jolene will soon be common knowledge, as a number of people have remarked on the change in her; Alistair says to David "Jolene looks cheerful " and, later in the week, Peggy remarks to Brian that it's nice to see Jolene so happy, to which he replies "she's radiant". He then spots Kenton in the Bull and asks "what are you doing here?" before inviting him to join them. That clunking sound you might hear soon is that of pennies dropping. In the meantime, Jamie sits on the village green, drinking cider with his friend Marty, moaning about how unfair life is. Too right – get used to it.

Over at Lower Loxley, Roy is proving to be a real treasure, handling everything competently and even coming up with creative ideas, such as a mini rock festival. "I feel so energised" he tells Elizabeth, while she presumably slips four or five Red Bulls into his cola. Back at Grey Gables, the staffing rotas are, to quote Robert Snell, "in free fall" but hey – as long as Lizzie's feeling good, that's OK.

So good is she feeling and so helpful has Roy been that she says she will employ an assistant when Roy has to leave. Personally, I reckon it will be hard to get him to go back to Grey Gables. As various members of Lizzie's family have been trying unsuccessfully for months to get her to let go a little, I wouldn't be surprised if they came round and queued up to give her a good slapping.

Bad news at Brookfield, where Johne's disease is confirmed in some of the herd and Alistair casually notes that it is sometimes caused by bad calf husbandry. When he has gone, Ruth reminds David that he was remiss earlier in the year by not fixing the holes in the calf house. He retaliates by saying that he had to be at Lower Loxley and it was Ruth who was in charge at Brookfield. This is akin to pouring petrol on an open fire and a full-scale row is only stopped when Ed turns up to collect some of George's toys, left at Brookfield by Emma.

Later on in the Bull, David confides in Alistair that he is dreading the inquest. "It's not a trial," says Alistair, adding that they will just ask questions to establish the facts. Take my advice David; if the question is asked "whose idea was it to go on the roof at night to take down the banner?" start lying through your teeth, or be prepared to have your sister never talk to you again.

Ed proves to be Mr Tactful when he returns home to find Emma getting worked up about trying to make space for the new baby. She has given up her cleaning job and a new cleaner has been employed at Brookfield. "You should see Ruth and David's kitchen – it's gleaming" Ed tells her, and then wonders why this implied criticism of her cleaning skills sets her off on a long bout of moaning.

The Book Club had its inaugural meeting, with Nathan Booth and Joe Grundy tagging along. Nathan was lusting after Sabrina Thwaite (who wasn't there) and Joe was just lusting after free canap├ęs. On the subject of Sabrina Thwaite, a word to Mr Booth – it was you who substituted wallpaper paste for the confetti that Eddie threw over Sabrina at the panto rehearsal. Take my tip Nathan, women tend to remember little things like that.

I was a bit peeved that Joe had infiltrated the Book Club, as his presence could well become tedious, but then I cheered up, as I realised there would only ever be one more meeting. Consider; the next book is to be chosen by Jim and he has said it will be "challenging". My money is on De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum by Marcus Tullius Cicero in the original Latin and people will be so bored that it will be a case of 'Goodnight, Book Club'. Or, as Cicero might have said: 'Ave, Liber Congressus'.

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